Chinese tourists take home glowing views of Japan

Kyodo

As Chinese tourists flock to Japan for the first time, it’s not just shopping they leave with. Many are taking home new, positive perspectives of an often vilified nation.

“Shop clerks were so kind,” said Zhang Yingxi, 21, a university student from Beijing as she showed a Hello Kitty doll she bought. “I was surprised.”

It changed her image of the country for the better, Zhang said, as she had learned extensively about Japan’s invasion of China and not much else.

She posted photos of her Japan trip on a Chinese social networking site, where they were viewed by some 20,000 people.

As for the shopping itself, that brings pleasure, too.

“Of all the things I bought in Japan, none has disappointed me,” said Liu Ruifang, 50, who took a six-day trip to Japan in November with a friend.

The tour she took to Tokyo, Hakone, Mount Fuji, Kyoto and Osaka was an eye-opening experience for Liu, who retired last year. She found that people who looked much older than her were still working and seemed in good shape.

“Some of them were over 70 and were still working, wearing pretty clothes,” Liu recalled. “It’s amazing.”

She and her friend spent around ¥500,000 on hair dryers, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, confectionery, pickles and other items.

“I feel secure about shopping in Japan because there are no fake products,” said Yang Wenxiao, a 27-year-old woman.

Gao Yang, 28, bought vests at an outlet mall in Japan.

“When I asked directions, people were really kind and showed me the way. In China, I often have to ask multiple people to get to the place,” he said.

Deng Yi, 36, and his wife Du Nan, 29, cherish photos they took of sushi, Kinkakuji Temple and a Gundam statue.

What impressed them was the sight of Japanese mothers taking care of their children alone in trains and stores. In China, children are taken care of by the entire family, not just mothers, as having a dual income is the norm for couples, they said.

Just before the Lunar New Year holidays, Japan’s embassy in Beijing and consulates in other cities saw a rush of visa applications.

In 2015, the number of Chinese visitors to Japan more than doubled from the previous year to some 5 million, as a relaxation of tourist visa requirements sparked a travel boom.

  • Bec

    The world should be a bit more like Japan in many areas!

    • majesticblue

      I will be damned if it were.

  • GBR48

    Chinese consumer tourism is not a single homogeneous lump that will vanish when the Yuan dips. It’s more complex than that.

    This didn’t all happen because currency manipulation suddenly made Japan a cheaper place to shop in – that just helped. China has reached a point where the people feel able and willing to visit Japan and shop here. Initially from Beijing, but increasingly from other cities and from less urban areas.

    First gens who came to buy, and do a little bit of tourism will spawn 2nd gens when their social media postings go viral – Hey, look, Japanese people are really nice after all, the country is amazing and safe to visit, the stuff is well made, the food is fabulous and you can breathe the air.

    Those 1st gens are likely to return for more tourism as well as more shopping, wanting to see more of the country.

    This is a ball that Japan cannot afford to drop, given the financial benefits. It’s also great PR for a country that doesn’t get a particularly good deal out of the Chinese education system, government or media.

    It is a good thing that Chinese and Japanese people get to meet and mix with each other in this way. Nothing breaks down the barriers forged by a difficult history and belligerent nationalist politicians quite so much as direct contact.

    So if problems crop up, fix them. Tour buses blocking roads in Ginza? Find somewhere for them to park and arrange for timed pick-ups. Lost tourists? Signs in Mandarin and custom apps. Shops that can deliver goods to airports, or even to addresses in China to reduce the traffic in giant suitcases. Introduce-a-friend loyalty cards. Mandarin-speaking staff and advertising in China. Much of this is already happening. Just keep tweaking it.

    And whatever you do, keep the quality up. If people are selling waste as food, or shipping faulty products, no more bows, apologies and small fines: make an example of them like you have never done before. Prison for those responsible. Companies shut down.

    Unless the Yuan completely tanks, which is unlikely, Chinese tourists will still come and will still spend. Maybe less Gucci and Armani, if times are tougher. Perhaps more Uniqlo and Liz Lisa, but that will actually benefit the Japanese economy even more.

    China is a big country, and other Asian nations that are following China’s developmental route will be next. Regardless of global financial problems or currency fluctuations, this is just the beginning.

    • 108

      Very nice post, GBR48. I think this is great news for China and Japan; it’s been happening now for some time with Korea, too.

      “Nothing breaks down the barriers forged by a difficult history and
      belligerent nationalist politicians quite so much as direct contact.”

      Indeed.

  • Ariko Honda

    I just wonder whether the Chinese tourists are creating the same good impression on their Japanese hosts. In my experience they can be loud and rude, even to the extent of physically pushing other people out of the way in their effort to get to a bargain in a store.

    • Desmond

      Much much worse than that! Try visit China..

  • Ariko Honda

    I just wonder whether the Chinese tourists are creating the same good impression on their Japanese hosts. In my experience they can be loud and rude, even to the extent of physically pushing other people out of the way in their effort to get to a bargain in a store.